Month: September 2012

In the Big City There

In the big city there you
don’t notice things the way you
normally would outside them, instead you
see them differently because you
can’t see close enough and you
can’t hear quiet enough and you
can’t see under the speed of it because you
have to be fast.

He walked the streets loud frightening endless bright and
briefcase in hand music in ear black suit on back and
the guitar player strummed his soul heart memories into sound and
sang his words short small effective right and the singer’s voice spoke true and
the man felt the grab jab pierce of reminiscence and
cried then: water on face warm glaze on eye and
on the street in the big city he walked and
continued walking because in the big city you
have to be fast.

They were young seven and eight and seven and because
he saw her playing on the swings in the cold sun and because
he thought she was beautiful like the others weren’t and because
she gave him her seat to play for a while the man
(but he wasn’t a man then) thought she was beautiful and because
her name was Mary he said:
Mary, have this chocolate stick.

But give me half.

They were older thirteen and fourteen and thirteen and he
wanted to kiss her but she said he couldn’t so he
asked again the next day and the next and he
said sweet things and bought a rose with all the money he had and he
gave it to her on the morning of June Nineteenth and because he
hadn’t forgotten her birthday and because he
was called Adam she said:
Adam, take this kiss

But only one.

They were older seven and eight and nine-teen and because she
knew he loved her and knew how to she
wrote him a song and called it I Wish I Knew Who You Are and because she
seemed to want to know he
took her to the park where he first saw her and because he
wanted her to know too he
talked to her for days about himself and because she
liked what she heard she laughed and cried and she
told him about herself too and because they
loved each other they said:
My love, take this heart

But care for it.

They were older and twenty-three-four-five and because he
found a job in a big office far away he
convinced her to move to the city with him because he
thought it was best and she agreed and because he
loved nothing more than the smell of her hair brown and
the sight of her eyes big and
the crackle of her voice silk and because he
could afford it now he said:
Mary, take this ring

But please say yes.

They were older and thirty-one-two-three and because she
vomited on the bathroom floor hot blood red and she
had headaches and forgot his name sometimes and she
felt numb in her arms and legs and feet so he
took her to the doctor and because she
didn’t seem like herself angry erratic and forgetful he
worried it would be a serious psychological problem but he was wrong because
brain tumours aren’t psychological.

The man the boy walked in the city street where he
remembered his beautiful Mary she
who let him play on the swings and kiss her and love her so he
cried in the middle of the busy city street but he
was seen by no one even though he
cried there plainly for everyone to see
but because in the city there you
don’t notice things the way you normally would and because
in the city you have to be fast you
don’t see those who cry.

The Alleyway Seemed Endless and He Waited At Its End

The alleyway seemed endless. It seem nearly an impossibility to reach its end, like it was some road made infinite by the gods as punishment for someone’s insolence, and he was forced to walk it. It was a cold day and so was he, and the rotting brick of the buildings between which the alley was wedged were a familiar sight, broken here, halved here, crumbling from old age here, damaged by the rain here, the colour faded and washed away.

And he walked.

The Man would be waiting at the end of the ally, beside the big metal trash can that no one ever bothered to empty out any more, that festering sink of the filth everyone wanted gone but didn’t deign to remove. It seemed an appropriate place. The Man would be waiting where he’d always waited, there by the trash can. Only this time it wasn’t as easy to walk. Not like the first time. Not like all the times before when he’d walked up to the very end of the alley and met The Man with that eager look on his face, his eyes screaming for more but his words betraying little more than casual interest, so The Man wouldn’t think to raise the price.

And he didn’t.

For the six months The Man knew him, he didn’t raise the price, he lowered it. Perhaps he thought he’d found a reliable customer, one who’d return, one who’d come back for more. If he thought that, he was right. Maybe there’s a flicker in their eyes, the ones who get addicted beyond any possible remission, beyond any possible relief of the habit. Maybe their voices crackle with the urgency of their need, their want, their love and their death. Maybe the itches they scratch show it, the twenty ants their frantic nails can never seem to bite off their bodies declaring their condition: hopelessly involved. He finally found the end of the alley, surprised that his heavy feet took him this far, and for a moment stood glaring at the trash bin. Yes, it was appropriate, it was fitting, he thought to himself. He fell on the floor and waited for The Man to saunter in with his last dose, and while he waited the trash bin wasn’t there anymore.

And she was.

It was the first day they met again, it was warm outside and so was he. It was the sunlight, it was the sunlight. Her hair glinted a golden shine, the sunlight filling it whole and making it clear to his eye that he thought that, if he wanted to, he could count every strand of it and know their exact number. It’s often those small things, those details that repeat because there’s only so many ways you could first meet someone. She had asked for a light, and he had offered her one though he didn’t smoke, but had started carrying a lighter because he enjoyed flipping open and throwing closed the lid. Open, closed, open, closed, he explained to her his obsession and she laughed, a small sweet laugh. She laughed and he did too, and he thought that if she told him that she’d fallen from one of the clouds above her head, he wouldn’t have been surprised to hear it. He would believe her. He remarked that she shouldn’t smoke, that it wasn’t good for her, and now he thought it was funny. He looked at himself and it was funny.

The Man’s boots ticked on the floor and the trash can was there again. The Man wasn’t disposed to speak much, but he was efficient, quick, punctual and precise. The Man held out the small bag to him, and he took it with calm hands, and by the look on The Man’s face he was surprised that the grab wasn’t as extreme as ones before it. But that didn’t concern him, and The Man only cared for what concerned him, the rest was nothing. He looked at The Man and reached out a hand to him, in it nestled the note of money he owed him, and, as if for the first time, he truly saw The Man, and saw that he was barely so. He was young, very young, with pale skin and a paler wisp of facial hair that betrayed his age. The Man, saying nothing, left him there by the trash can.

He reached into his pocket for the phone and dialed her number. The bag looked made of the kind of plastic you’d find wrapping sandwiches or inside cardboard boxes of cereal, and he thought that was appropriate too. In it the syringe was already filled, full and still warm from the heating. He had asked The Man to prepare it for him. He pressed the sharp tip against his skin, beneath the green vein, and pushed until the syringe was empty and he felt the fire pushing through him, against the walls of his body, smashing them wherever it could, pushing holes through his fabric that he couldn’t recover from. He wouldn’t survive this one. He knew his limits and he knew how much could handle taking. The syringe had triple that amount, and now it was inside him, fighting him again, and this time he would lose to it. He pressed the phone to his ear and it was beautiful. It was her voice and she called his name, and for the last time he heard how beautiful it sounded, smooth like crisp wind and calling his name. He needed to hear it again. It made it easier. When the phone fell, it clicked against the asphalt and fell into the dump of trash, as he did.

Her voice became panicked.